As retirement draws nearer, you and your spouse might start daydreaming about mornings without alarm clocks, vacations at the drop of a hat, or days spent lounging in the sunroom with a bottle of wine.
Retirement sure has a lot to offer, but creating the retirement of your dreams does require some planning and preparing — both mentally and financially. That’s where a retirement lifestyle plan comes into play.
Here’s what a lifestyle plan is, and how you can start building one that reflects your retirement goals and wishes.
I Have a Financial Retirement Plan, Why Do I Need a Lifestyle Plan?
When spending so much time and energy saving for retirement, sometimes people forget that, in reality, money isn’t the goal. Sure, you have an idea in your head of how much you need to retire comfortably. But have you put much thought into what “retiring comfortably” actually means for you and your spouse?
Money isn’t the goal, but rather it’s the tool you can use to help achieve your goals and dreams.
So while a financial retirement plan is essential to a healthy and happy retirement, a lifestyle plan can be just as important. In fact, it’s a lifestyle plan for retirement that helps you determine how you’ll use your money and what you’ll actually do in order to feel purposeful and fulfilled. You could have millions of dollars set aside for retirement, but without a plan to determine how you’ll use your savings to achieve your goals, it may never feel like enough.
The Transition to Retirement Can Be Challenging
The idea of “retirement,” often conjures up images of lounging on a beach, cruising the Caribbean, gardening, or maybe volunteering at the local library.
And yes, these are all things you can look forward to in retirement!
But what people often don’t consider is the actual transition of going from a steady routine and 40+ hour work week to being financially independent. Suddenly, you have entire days, weeks, and months to yourself, with no obligation to go anywhere or do anything. This may sound great, but the reality can actually be quite detrimental to your physical and mental health when not properly planned for.
In fact, around one in four adults over 65 are considered to be “socially isolated.” Not only does this increase the chance of loneliness, depression, and physical decline, but it can actually increase the risk of dementia by about 50%.1
A lifestyle plan is an effective way to combat isolation and loneliness while giving you purpose and reason in retirement — especially as you transition and settle into your new routine.
How to Find Your “Why” in Retirement
During your working years, a large part of your personal identity may have been tied to your occupation: doctor, lawyer, teacher, business owner, etc.
That means when you reach retirement, you may feel like you’ve lost a bit of your identity. But you’re so much more than just a “retiree.” You’re a person with drive, purpose, and exciting dreams for your retirement.
So while you were driven by your work “mission” for years (even decades), now’s the time to identify your personal “mission.” In other words, your “why.”
This is not always something that comes naturally or quickly for people. It may take some deep reflection, and long talks with your spouse, to figure out your “why” in retirement. But don’t be afraid to lean into your personal values, as these can help steer you in the right direction.
Make a Plan for How You’ll Spend Your Time During This Next Chapter
Once you have an idea of the direction you’d like to go in retirement, it’s time to focus on the fun stuff — the what, where, when, and how.
It may sound cliche, but don’t be afraid to kick this journey off by creating a retirement bucket list. Is there another state (or country) you’ve always wanted to travel to? Maybe you’d like to move to a city in a different climate? Do you envision adopting a new furry friend, or maybe starting a charitable organization all on your own? There’s no goal too big or too small to add to your bucket list.
This is your time to try new hobbies, pursue your passion projects, meet new people, and build a community of support.
As you go about planning your retirement, don’t be afraid to experience new things on your own. You and your spouse don’t have to do everything together. In fact, trying different things can actually be good for your marriage.
Think about it: Going from 40+ hours a week apart to spending all day, every day together can be tough on any couple. A little space apart is healthy.
Perhaps the most important thing of all is to simply do things that make you happy and help you feel fulfilled. You have total financial freedom now, which means you can spend your days doing what you enjoy! If you value family, spend time with your grandkids, host family dinners every week, or travel more to see your loved ones.
You’ve worked incredibly hard to get here, now’s the time to enjoy it.
Don’t Forget to Communicate
Communication with your spouse is absolutely critical when it comes to planning for your retirement lifestyle. Even if you’ve always been on the same page, retirement is a whole new ballgame. Your spouse may have a vision for the future you never knew about. And unless you ask, you might assume they only want the same things you do.
For example, you may be surprised to learn that your spouse wants to get their scuba diving certification, try an art class, or move to a cooler climate. If you didn’t ask, you’d never know!
The earlier you start communicating, the sooner you learn what exciting things your spouse wants to do in retirement — and you can start planning for them, together.
When it comes to building a retirement lifestyle plan, think about setting SMART goals:
Setting SMART goals means more than daydreaming about what you’ll do in retirement. It’s about identifying your dreams, building a plan, creating accountability, and making them happen. Otherwise, you may be more prone to spending your money without purpose. This can lead to a lack of fulfillment and satisfaction during retirement.
Remember to Enjoy Your Retirement
The greatest gifts you can give yourself in retirement are financial security and a lifestyle plan. At Bienvenue, we help those approaching retirement accomplish both. We believe that you can’t have one without the other, and both play an integral role in creating a successful new chapter.
Related: The Problem With “Free” in Finance and Why It Can Come at a Steep Cost